S. Korean wheelchair curling team looking to repeat success of ‘Garlic Girls’ at Paralympics

March 2, 2018

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s wheelchair curling team for the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics said Friday it wants to write a success story like the women’s curling team did at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The women’s curling team earned silver at the Feb. 9-25 Olympics and became a global sensation with its inspiring performances and interesting personalities. The team is now better known as “Garlic Girls,” as the girls come from a town known for producing garlic, and “Team Kim,” which reflects curlers and coach all having the same last name.

The wheelchair curling team said it wants to be called “Avengers with five different last names.” The South Korean wheelchair curling team is comprised of Seo Soon-seok, Cha Jae-goan, Jung Seung-won, Lee Dong-ha and Bang Min-ja.

“There were five Kims on the women’s curling team, but we all have different last names,” Seo, who serves as the skip for the team, said after the launch event for the South Korean squad for the PyeongChang Paralympics. “Most of us became disabled while we were growing up. We hope to get good results so that we can encourage people like us that we can stand up and live well.”

South Korea earned silver in wheelchair curling at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, Canada. The country hopes to see its wheelchair curling team stand on the podium again at the Winter Paralympics at home, which will run from March 9 to 18.

“Our first goal is to reach the semifinals,” said head coach Baek Jong-chul. “If we get support from home fans from there, we’ll be able to go for gold or silver.”

Unlike previous Paralympics, where South Korea sent the top team in the national selection trials, the country this time picked best curlers at each position and formed an “All-Star team.”

The wheelchair curling competition at the PyeongChang Paralympics will be held in a round-robin format featuring 12 teams. The round-robin matches will take place from March 10 to 15 at Gangneung Curling Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, followed by the semifinals on March 16. Medal winners will be determined on March 17.

“I think we have to collect at least seven wins and four losses to reach the semifinals,” Baek said. “I’m confident that we can have at least seven wins in the qualifying round.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) shakes hands with wheelchair curler Bang Min-ja during the South Korean squad launch ceremony for the PyeongChang Paralympics in Seoul on March 2, 2018. (Yonhap)South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) shakes hands with wheelchair curler Bang Min-ja during the South Korean squad launch ceremony for the PyeongChang Paralympics in Seoul on March 2, 2018. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr

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